Category: Food!


About Time

You know that thing where you are pregnant, but it’s early in the pregnancy, and you don’t want to tell anyone, because you don’t know yet if its viable. But you kind of are certain it is, and you are bursting to tell, bursting to share, bursting to start on this new, exciting phase of your life? I’m not pregnant, but it’s that thing.

The sweetest words:

Hello,

I have sent the Affidavit of Divorce Pay-off to xxxx xxxx. I need to confirm that you are ok with the $xx.xx doc prep fee for the Release of Lien and the $xx.xx recording fee. Once this document is signed and recorded, the lien will no longer cloud your title and you will not have to worry about providing documentation later to other companies if you choose to refinance again or sell.

Thank you,

…and that’s all I want to say, for now. Because I’m still not 100% sure it’s viable.

It’s going to be an interesting spring.

My chickens laid 4 eggs this week, and I’m all aflutter with love for those ladies. I honestly and sincerely thanked them while I gathered up the pretty blue eggs. They just clucked, but that’s ok.

My mind is all over spring. All I can think of lately is when can I start when can I start when can I start planting and growing things. Soon. Soon. Soon.

Now.

In my 45th year, I will buy my house, fix it up a bit, and plant a garden. Because what’s been stopping me from doing those things all of these years, anyway?

Oh. And I’ll be sending my eldest child off to college.

Oh yeah. That’s what’s been stopping me. And not without good reason. I had other gardens to tend to. Other beings to nurture.

I told Kate “I have had a recurring theme in my dreams where I discover a hidden room in a house I’ve lived in for a long time.”

…I feel as though I’ve discovered that room in my waking life.

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Birthday weekend is drawing to a rapid close here, and I’m sitting here. Reflecting.

I could describe the weekend in a linear way – things I did and saw. Or in a non-linear way – things I thought and felt. If I was at my best, I would manage to fold the non-linear into the linear and find a way to describe my inner world by relating external activities. Perhaps it’s easier than I’m making it seem in my head.

The weekend began with a lovely Sunday stroll with Lulu. We’ve been enjoying Walnut Creek Park for it’s wonderful forested trails and off-leash dog-friendliness. I continue to feel extreme joy and gratitude about the fact that I finally have a dog who is predictably other-dog-and-people friendly enough to trust off-leash, and it’s wonderful to leisurely stroll in the forest while she gambols in a loose orbit around me. I have loved all of my canine companions as fully as I was able at the time that I had them. Of course, Lulu benefits by being in my life at a time that I have relatively few constraints – I work from home, the kids pretty much take care of themselves, and really all I’m interested in lately is taking long walks and spending time in the garden – both activities that she is happy to enjoy with me. But also, Lulu has the exact right temperament for me almost all of the time. She still has her moments when I just don’t want to even deal with her, but those times are fewer and further between.

Also – would you look at that face? Who could possibly not be in love with that sweet face. I mean, srsly,

Apparently, chasing that small, speedy dog around a tree for 15 minutes straight and greeting every dog we met in a playful crouch was enough to sufficiently tire Lulu out, so I brought her home and went out on a quest for houseplants, which is what I decided to gift myself with this year. I’ve run out of electronic gadgets to buy and I’m going back to the basics. And because I posted this intention on Facebook, I came home from plant shopping to find several houseplants waiting for me on my front porch – left by a friend who is leaving town and needed to rehome them. I am both thankful to her and terrified that I will kill her very well-cared for babies. Hopefully this fear will cure me of my black thumb once and for all. It was wise of me to manifest house plants, though. My penchant for murdering creatures in the chlorophyllic class notwithstanding, I’ve always wanted for greenery. My desire these days is to grow things constantly. Buddha the Grouch is always, well, grouching about the fact that whenever we leave the house or return, the first thing i do is linger over all of the things that are growing between the porch and the yard.

Right now, I’m MOST excited about the artichokes lining my walkway. And now I’m getting even more psyched about otherworldly asparagus poking up in whimsical curlicues between and around the artichokes, and a possible pair of pomegranates lining my side walkway. But that has to wait until I can get some bare root starts next week. And the one small artichoke in the backyard that I managed to plant from seed and nurture into a fairly sturdy, healthy seedling. It grows so slow!

But back to my weekend – I realized I was late for a party after plant-shopping, so I headed out to enjoy the always gentle energy of dear friends M&K. I only intended to stay for a little while, but enjoyed the conversation so much…I stayed longer than I intended, and was late arriving home to once again firmly insist that The Tao of Bird PLEASE finish the dishes.

There is this pattern of behavior TOB has been getting into, where he will procrastinate a chore until it becomes a Herculean task. Like, if he just DID the damn dishes the first day he is scheduled to do them, it would be manageable. But he puts it off, in spite of my expressed misgivings, and suddenly it’s four days later and every fucking dish in the house is dirty and he is beside himself with not knowing where to begin. This happens weekly. We are working on it. It begins with suggestions – “Hey, um…it’s your day to do the dishes. Think you can get to them soon?” which quickly turn to more adamant suggestions – “So, you need to start doing the dishes now.” which is laced with a general desire, on my part, to not have to do this AGAIN. TOB usually responds to this by, at first, brushing me off – “I’ll do them.” And every week that we go through this pattern I get increasingly dubious from the beginning. Usually at some point in the process, ToB spends an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom, which I finally got him to ADMIT was a stalling tactic.

The thing is, I can FEEL him making the wrong decision. And I don’t like for him to do that. More than wanting him to get the dishes done, I want to not have the major proportion of our interactions be me telling him to get the thing done that he should have done 4 days ago when I first started telling him to get it done, and that still hasn’t gotten done even after the routine of handing over the mobile phone and eliminating screentime is dutifully and resignedly adhered to. I KNOW it’s overwhelming to have 4 days worth of dishes staring you down. Welcome to the first 8 years of your life. Part of me wants to tell him “If you think the process of doing 4 days’ worth of dishes is overwhelming, try doing them with a clingy 2 year-old pinching at your bicep fat.”

Eventually, though, there is a breakthrough. And then it’s just about me adhering to my standards in spite of the fact that I’m just grateful that I no longer have to nag someone. He ended up powering through it in the end, so I took him out to get a burger and fries so I could spend some time talking to him before his winter break reached an end.

I stayed up late into the night dancing and writing in my journal.

Woke up on my bday, made coffee, and met with a friend who has schemes for a chicken coop made out of pallettes. We talked gardens and strategies & I’m excited about learning to build things and coming out the other end with something practical. I also learned about cold frames, and now I’m determined to build a cold frame – if not this year, then next for sure.

D is a fabulous fount of knowledge about plants and things. She is the one who suggested the bare root starts for asparagus and pomegranates, and because of her, my growing flock will have a suitable abode. It was a good meeting, and I’m glad to be learning so much from so many people.

I’ve been thinking a lot about transience and permanence. I’m not sure if I’ve written about this in earlier posts, but something Wendell Berry wrote in -I think it was the introduction, even, of his book of essays The Art of the Commonplace- about a sense of place. About how people who live closer to the land – people in rural areas, or other areas where you don’t have the same services and conveniences people in the city have – have to consider the entire lifecycle of every purchase. When you buy something, and you can’t just throw it in a plastic bin and put it out on the curb, you have to think about how you will dispose of the husk of that which you consume. And, specifically in terms of sense of place, your relative transience impacts the choices you make about the spaces you inhabit. If you have a home, for instance, that you intend to hand down…you will make decisions about repairs and upkeep in a way that’s different from someone who intends to flip that home or rent it out. And with all of the people who have passed through this home, that becomes evident. Which is why I”m looking for ways to make this space more cherished.. I’m putting down roots. Literally. Finally. Whether I stay here 4 years more or 20 years more, I want to leave this space better than it was when I arrived. Not for resale value, but for me.

I guess that’s what all that reclaiming was about. Perhaps why I let things go for so long. If I claim this space, don’t I also claim these circumstances? Ironically, claiming the space only serves to brighten the circumstances. More and more, my home is my spa. The things I choose to do to beautify it are my meditation. And the things I leave a mess are their own form of beauty. Like my “new” stove – purchased a year ago – which currently shows the wear and tear and disarray of a much-loved and well-used appliance.

So, I spent much of the 45th anniversary of my birth reading in the backyard while attempting to get a fire going, listening to punk rock, writing in my journal. I got into a groove of recounting life in Chicago – perhaps inspired by Kerouac, as I’ve been listening to On The Road lately. I haven’t re-read it yet. I’m sure it needs editing. I might even still cut it up and make it vague. I go back and forth. But it’s ok. The zine will get done when it gets done.

I’ve been learning the art of editing. Clearly, not of the writing in this blog, but in life. Like corn. D made a remark about how I might get some good chicken feed out of a crop, but that corn is really difficult to grow & I realized that it’s silly for me to do something so difficult my second year of gardening. Why not, instead, build my confidence with some easy spring/summer crops? Corn can wait. This made me happy. As much as I would love the outcome of corn, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the input of corn.

“It’s like kissing my kitten in the belly.” -Jack Kerouac

And dinner with S&B&C&Buddhathegrouch&Tao of Bird on my bday. Indian food. It was tasty, but I felt distracted by my words and queasy. It was nice to mix worlds. Friends meeting friends in parallel friend universes.

And then today. Today, I cooked. I cooked, and between bouts of cooking, I read zines. And played Cookie Jam. And listened to endless podcasts. And let the dog out and in and out and in again until I finally realized it’s a beautiful day and left the back door open while I cooked and listened to podcasts.

So…you know…I can’t complain. Forty-Five is mellow. Forty-five is wise. Forty-five balances movement and stillness. Forty-five is unflinching in the face of things that would have kept Thirty-Five up all night, worrying. Forty-five suits me well. There are going to be some exciting changes this year. I’m ready.

Shaunee.

I have a complicated relationship with my family. The kind of relationship that might one day transcribe well to an allegorical fictional novel filled with universal references to the hardships all families face, but which doesn’t translate well to a blog post. It is especially and even less well-able to be translated to an ongoing feud on Facebook that ended with a couple of family members terminating their relationship with me.

 

It could have ended differently, I suppose. I should have probably reached out privately at some point in the year-long argument about social justice…to get a temperature check and attempt to communicate in a less-charged context. I am, after all, the adult in the situation. I don’t really have an excuse for not doing so, aside from the aforementioned complicated family dynamic – which isn’t much of an excuse, but I allowed it to be, until it was too late.

Other than that, I’m satisfied with my behavior, if not the outcome. And who knows what the outcome is/will be anyway? And I can say that in the midst of discovering myself at odds with some members of my family, I strengthened my appreciation for others. And, in a way, some of the complications of the distant past were healed in the process.

And, so I find myself nearing another change of seasons. I feel like the summer is always a wasted season. I feel like I accomplished very little, and am quickly becoming charged with creative energy at the prospect of the end of summer…even though in Austin, summer won’t really be over until nearly the end of October. 

Dancing

Funny how I started writing about my family and I suddenly am feeling a wave of creative ideas about the garden. We’ve been thinking about the perfect centerpiece for the succulent garden. Considering a bird bath, which is still a possibility. And I’ve been going to thrift stores trying to find the perfect bowl for the bird bath…and it struck me that what really belongs there is the toilet that has been sitting back in the yard for years because I couldn’t part with that much of a functional porcelain bowl. I mean, really – it’s a giant, lovely, flowerpot. Sparkly and everything. So. That’s that.

Lulu in the twilight.

And my artichokes are sprouting. I’ve decided I’m going to dedicate myself to planting artichoke plants all over the property. I want several of them. I want them lining the walkway and bounding the seating area. Because I can. Ha. In fact, I have four little sprouts coming up right now, and a couple of packets of seeds due in the mail.

In the meantime, my brussels sprouts sprouts aren’t doing so well. I completely lost interest in them when the artichokes started sprouting. The artichokes seem to be such hearty little seedlings, and the brussels sprouts so delicate. 

I’m really excited about making an artichoke kingdom here. Hahaha.

And I have ideas for the zine, which I have really not worked on much except in theory. I’m thinking about backgrounds consisting of the same collaged pages I used to make, only the collage will be flyers from Chicago bands. And I’m thinking about rather than making a full color zine, I might make color postcards of some of the drawings. And I feel like I’m going to be writing the zine in a day…which isn’t necessarily a bad prospect. Just spending a day going from beginning to middle to end. Sounds like a lovely plan.

His shirt says “I got out of bed for this?” and so does his general attitude.

First day of school. My kids hate being photographed, so I don’t have one of those adorable “Back to school” shots year after year for comparison. So I will just post a bunch of random stuff I have in my backlogged camera roll. “Back to school” doesn’t really exist when you are homeschooled, once you get over the urge to fly kites in the schoolyard or blow bubbles in front of the library as a means of obnoxiously expressing your relative freedom*, and the annual homeschool “not back to school” swim party is both overcrowded and underparticipated by kids your kids actually want to hang out with.

Tofu Spring Rolls with peanut sauce at Kim Phung

But being that this is the Tao of Bird’s second year of public school, and now that Buddha the Grouch is taking classes at the community college pretty much every day of the week, as well as participating in some of the usual homeschool activities…today was markedly different from the rest of the summer, if only for that brief few minutes after BTG went to school and before TOB came home from school when the house was oddly empty.

Tofu with Garlic, Hot Pepper, and Lemongrass at Kim Phung

I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t climbing the walls waiting for the boys to start school again. Maybe a little for their own sakes to get them out of the house, but truthfully I love those guys. I’ve grown used to sharing my space with them. It’s nice to have my own space once in awhile, but it’s going from being with them constantly to, too soon…too close to now…having one child move off to school, and yeah…I like having them around.

Key Lime Pie

But I’m also excited that they are out and learning and excited about what they are doing – at least to some extent. I’m pleased with the fact that TOB was placed in AP classes in spite of asking not to be (and secretly hoping it was his father who arranged that, as I finally had to give up trying to convince him to take them and just make an agreement that if he took it easy this year, he would really have to kick it into gear when he gets to high school…even though his father was the one who originally disagreed with putting him in pre-AP classes to begin with & yeah if that was difficult for you to understand, basically welcome to it. But even though it’s maddening inconsistency, I’m pleased that TOB is in those classes and I didn’t have to betray him to ensure it.

There wasn’t much to my day. It’s been too too hot lately to sit outside at all. Yesterday, I took Lulu out for a walk around 10 AM, and after an hour she had to flop down in the grass for 15 minutes – not due to thirst, because she refused water – just out of sheer exhaustion. She did it several times for about 5 minutes at a time…and wanted to flop down again, but then saw a squirrel and decided she wasn’t all that tired after all, as she attempted to drag me up the tree to reach the taunting bushytail. So, yeah…hot. Exhaustingly hot. Oppressively hot. SQUIRREL!

I did wake up early this morning. Early enough to make eggs for TOB before driving him to his first day of school and get a bit of gardening and housework done before dropping BTG off for his class in the afternoon. Then to the pet store and grocery.

 

And several episodes of Upstairs/Downstairs because I’m FREAKING addicted.

Man Bites Dog – Veggie Abe Frohman and Cheese Fries

It’s more overtime for me this week. And possibly more again next week if it’s available. Time to save back up after all of the school expenses and activities.

Artichoke sprouts

And you know what? I do alright. I really do. And I feel alright. I feel as though I have done a pretty damn respectable job as a parent. And they have as children. So far.

Oyster Lexicon, #2

I started working on the next issue of the zine today. I mean, I have a lot of the artwork done, but none of the writing, really. Beyond conceptual. Some of the writing will be original from my time in Chicago. I’ve been considering publishing some of the sweet little love letters I have from that era. I don’t THINK the other party involved will mind. I am in touch with him, so I will ask him…but I have to find them first. I know I saved them, but there was a large box of letters in the house that my ex got into and maude knows what he did to the contents. I haven’t delved beyond the nasty things he wrote on the surface of the container. I tucked it away in the attic. It’s time to take it down and look at my “keep forever” things. Plus they are super sweet, and I think they would make people feel squishy.

Chicago Theater

Love is awesome like that. Regardless of whether it’s forever love or not – which is wisdom that would have allowed me to enjoy myself more when I was younger, but no matter. At least I can still smile at the me that was in love with that boy who broke my heart (or whose heart I broke, because – really – who can tell which came first) especially since I still know that boy and love him in a different, but not lesser way…which is something I think I always HAVE understood about love.

Marching Cicada

And I’ve decided not to make “D” in my alphabet about divorce. In the nick of time, I’m reminded that the dogs in my life have been far more significant. One of them allegedly caused the divorce. Another two once stood on the chest of a man who woke in my bed, and then rightly attempted to escape from them and my life after a regrettable night on the eve of forever.

Lulu hug

There are some stories that can’t ever be fully told. And some that have been overtold. And some that are best told

through other means. There are some stories you tell to others so convincingly that you start to believe them yourself. I think telling stories through the eyes of the dogs I have had in my life will make things slightly easier. I’m just not sure if I can adequately draw a dog…hahaha.

Hoping it will be out in time for our yardwarming around the equinox. That’s what I’m aiming for. I have about a month.

… 

*Yes. That obnoxious person was me.

Catching up on some links…

The Supreme Court’s baffling tech illiteracy is becoming a problem

“Granted, the justices are behind the times. Twenty-first century technology has come to the Court, but the Court hasn’t come to the twenty-first century. Justices still communicate by handwritten notes instead of email. The courthouse got its first photocopying machine in 1969, six decades after the machine was invented. Oral arguments were first tape-recorded in 1955, nearly a hundred years after the first sound recording. At those arguments, blog reporters are denied press passes, tweeting is verboten, and justices thumb through hard copies of court documents. At the Supreme Court, every day is Throwback Thursday.

This might explain why the majority of Americans oppose life tenure for Supreme Court justices. Life tenure shields judicial independence and pays homage to the Founding Fathers’ vision. At the time the Constitution was written, however, the average life expectancy was about 40 years. (Or 60 years if controlled for infant mortality.) Today, it’s nearly twice as long. Clearly, life tenure meant something different for the founding generation.”

 

The Rise of the DIY Abortion in Texas

One woman I interviewed at a Mexican restaurant in Brownsville told me her good friend nearly died after taking pills that her husband bought in Mexico. Instead of ingesting four of the 12 pills every three hours, as is recommended by the World Health Organization, she took two pills under her tongue, then four pills vaginally, then two more under her tongue, then four more vaginally. She began to bleed profusely, doubled over in pain. But because she was undocumented, she was afraid to seek medical help at a nearby hospital or clinic. Instead, she crossed the border to Mexico with her five children—all the while hemorrhaging—in search of medical assistance. She has since recovered but is still in Mexico with her children because she can’t cross the border back into the United States.

Carreon says she sees many patients who have taken improper dosages. “A lot of patients said that they would take the whole bottle and they would tell me they took 28 pills,” she said. “They’re taking maybe four vaginally, two orally. Then an hour later, four more. I hear different ways of using these pills. It’s shocking each time.”

But strict internal clinic protocol bars Carreon and other employees at Whole Women’s Health from answering questions about miso and abortion. And the drug’s other distribution channels are similarly mum. Mexican pharmacists can’t provide information about the drug and abortion, since it’s only sold there as an ulcer medication, and many of the vendors selling miso at flea markets know very little about correct dosage.

 

Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They’re Private Corporations

Requests by the American Civil Liberties Union for open records on Massachusetts SWAT teams begat refusals to comply based on the premise that the forces are private corporations rather than government entities.

 

9 Facts Shatter the Biggest Stereotypes About Fat People

People are allowed to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies, but we need to start treating people of all sizes with respect. We can start by providing some actual information about being fat.

 

Lately, I’ve been watching The Wire, and I’m having to lean on episode guides to make sense of everything.

I never remember this stuff, so I’ll probably refer back to this video about different display connectors often.

Will Detroit’s Water be Privatized or Recognized as Commons?

“We are not saying that the services of running water should be free, we are saying it should be affordable and accessible by all, and we have put forth the Water Affordability Plan to that end, which was approved by our city council,” says Priscilla Dziubek, of the Peoples Water Board. This plan is self-funding and graduated much like the tax system where no one pays over a certain percentage of their income on water.

 

Nation editor destroys Bill Kristol: “You should enlist in the Iraqi army”

“If there are no regrets for the failed assumptions that have so grievously wounded this nation, or politics and media accountability,” vanden Huevel continued.” We need it Bill, because this country should not go back to war. We don’t need armchair warriors. And if you feel so strongly, you should, with all due respect, enlist in the Iraqi army.”

When the Tao of Bird comes home from his dad’s, we’re totally going to do this Texas Pie-Eating roadtrip

For your summer music list pleasures, NPR has listed the top 50 songs of 2014 (so far.)

For those of you trying to stay awake without heating up…a recipe for cold-pressed iced coffee.

(Transmissions from Summers past…)

Interpretive Interloper

a telescope transcendent.

***

Rain Journal

 

Witness

Gathering Clouds

No False Alarm, this

(much desired drenching)

This flammable

Wooden

Ocean

 

the doves go

silent

slowly

 

The ground

is FISSURED

 

In need of

soaking

 

Wind

chime

symphony

bliss

 

The garden cries “THIRSTY”

 

Ecstatic

Pattering

Drips 

 

the air is

ELECTRIC

 

slowly

building

 

and I am

on my front porch/parched

waiting

*patience patience patience*

 

Lay

back in 

the Rain

 

for the downpour.

 

photo (3)

***

My problem is that I find myself in a situation I never dreamed I would be in. A single parent. A professional. With a career. And kids. How did I end up here? And single. As in totally alone. As in no one with me. No support. No help. Or, at least, not an adequate enough amount to ease the burden. That’s where I find myself. And making a modest income. More than I ever have before. And yet, somehow, still struggling. Still working hard to catch up & stay caught up. Still – perhaps more now than ever – worried. Because once you’ve achieved a certain level of success, you are expected to perpetuate that success. And THAT is what frightens me. I was EXPECTED to be ambitious and to continue to accept advances in my career…and now I’m EXPECTED to continue to advance. If I don’t, I’m viewed as unambitious. If I don’t, I’m somehow flawed. But where are these expectations coming from? Are they internal or external expectations? Do I want to move up & am I just scared of the responsibility? Or is it true that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing? If anything, I would like to be able to move DOWN. And not out of laziness or fear. I don’t think. But while I’m doing what I love to do for a living & I truly love my job, if I’m honest there are aspects of my job that I don’t enjoy & that prevent me, I think, from achieving what I want to achieve.

***

…excerpt from an unwritten novel…

Last night, goofing, he says something. she says “Oh shut up” he says “I will not shut up. You always get your way and this time you will not get your way I will not shut up.” She says “If I always get my way you would have shut up a long time ago.”

In the restaurant, everyone was talking about weird stuff. Somewhere, someone was discussing a tapeworm – behind them, another person mentioned a medical condition…..they said they were lactose intolerant. She said “is this a restaurant or a gastroenterologist’s office.”

They proceeded to get buzzed on $3 margaritas which were unusually strong, paired with (intentionally) overly-salty Mexican food. They talked…meandered. Tried to say weird and interesting random things at a slightly higher volume, just to entertain their fellow eavesdroppers. There was a party breaking up in the party room of the restaurant. So many conversations. A guy caught his eye. Flirted with him. He looked away. Was not interested, but kept checking back to see if maybe it was his imagination, but he kept catching his eye & flirting, no matter how fleeting the glance.

They ate a lot of food, then stumbled home in the dark. The long way. Both of them needing to pee. She proposed stopping in at a bar along the way, but his usual anxious pessimism kicked in and after warding off 5-6 worst-case scenarios of the imagined ambiance of the place, after they had already walked past the bar, he said he would go if she would buy him a drink. She said “Nah – we’ve already passed the bar.

Back home, in bed. He’s having a hard time staying hard. Is it the alcohol or the fact that she has obviously been visibly exasperated with him since they initially discussed getting together. First, it was the argument about walking (too hot, too tired, too far) then, the give in. The argument about who would pay (a.k.a. the argument about who was more broke, which often ended in me pointing out that though she makes more money, she is raising two pre-teen girls, aka the human plague of locusts.

Then in the restaurant, amid the pleasant conversation…the argument about what denoted sucky taste, with the inevitable sighing and eyerolling on both sides of the table as one party was deemed overly critical and the other party overly emotional. Again.

So, he was having trouble keeping it hard, although clearly enjoying himself. She was battling mixed feelings & not wanting to be touched & STRUGGLING to stay present, but feeling somehow belittled by her inability to turn him on enough to keep him hard while he fucked her.

Eventually, he gave up & rolled off. She felt tired. Snuggled up to him. He reached over & touched her breast, but she was sensitive, asked him not to touch. A familiar boundary that had been violated by many men before him. And then the invalidating happened. Once something is deemed off-limits, even temporarily, at random intervals, the child fixates on That Thing and will not be deterred. So, “Please, don’t touch those right now” (while giggling & trying to deflect) becomes “Seriously, don’t touch them.” And then the conversation becomes entirely about how horrible and mean she is for limiting access to her body. His insecurity turns on her, tells her she needs to just “get over” whatever is making her fel like she doesn’t want to be touched. And she gets smaller and smaller, shrinking inside her skin until all that was her is now a smooth, hard, dense pellet inside the carapace of her skin.

***

OH in Clute, TX: “I need a wife.” (4 year old)

“You got something better – you got a mother.”

Outside of Clute, there was a street named This Way. Other than that, I saw not much of interest.

There’s a big family in here, having breakfast. Grandparents, parents, and 3 children.

There’s a heat warning in New Orleans. More reason to get there late in the day.

Lots of weird weather going on.

Leisurely morning. There’s no point in rushing. My amended amended plan includes visiting some nature preserves & rolling into New Orleans after dark. Then spending a few hours on Sunday walking around New Orleans before heading back to Austin.

Apple and banana and coffee. There is a rhythm of the road that I missed. And I drive and I drive and I drive.

***

That veggie chorizo gave me gas!

***

Goals for Chicago Trip:

Walk Daily

Swim regularly

Write frequently

Learn to draw

Watch Lost

Minimal scheduling

FREE CHILDREN!!!

***

photo (1)

Space is Love

The space between the leaves

 

Let me remind myself of the ways in which I am human. Besieged. You are impart. In full or in part.

angry, soul-throated. Off

Loaded.

***

Rain delays my morning swim. I am looking around my room and admiring my sloppiness. My computer desk cluttered with precariously leaning piles of ripped CDs (I finally got my entire collection on my computer) dirty clothes litter the floor. My bed disheveled – sheets need to be changed and I am sleeping with books & journals that are scattered all over – my own & the ones I have been reading to the children. Incense dust covers almost every surface. My laptop is on the floor, covered with clean clothes that I folded, sorted, then totally pushed off my bed while sleeping one night. Dirtbombs playing on the computer as a perfect complement to the grungy state of affairs & the thunder & lightning add ambiance. I roll up my shades so I could look out at the dripping grey world, cracking a window to catch a breeze.

There is an assortment of rhinestoned barrettes and hair pins on the window sill, left there before make out sessions and naps.

***

I pronounce you – unpronounceable. Confounded by your intrigue & intrigued by your con-foundation – alacrity – you lack, gritty. Seething yet gleaming – you spit into the hole you have created. It is sad, isn’t it, that freedom can leave you so imprisoned. Trapped in this prism. White light enters & only strands of colors escape. Leaving you – half in/half out. Drowned in drought. Twisting about & consumed by doubt while I sit and pout.

***

My tired heart and your bitter hands. Float dreamily – a lazed interpretation, crazed regurgitation of faith like a lizard, caught sleeping in the sun. A rock of consequence. Drear dread apparent. Negotiation – frittered forever an ever love lost lorn warn. I send a warning. You. Dopamine. Mine own Clementine. Clementine.

Sorrow is a gracious hostess. She invites us in and we lay back, relieved of our joyous burdens. She feeds us so we don’t realize she is feasting on us. We dream in soporific haze. A daze, glazed, amazed at the lack of feeling.

Sorrow is a row of sows. Incredible how quickly my house catches fire. Burns to the ground. How quickly I am reduced to ashes.

***

What Do I Want? There are many categories, and it’s a long list:

Here’s what I have in my life currently that is consistent with my desires:

-An excellent community

-lots of love

-opportunities for intellectual enrichment

-creative outlet

-time to play

-a nice place to live that is safe

-relative harmony in my immediate family

-food food & people to share it with

-a good job doing something fulfilling and where I am appreciated for my strengths

-strong, wise women in abundance

-a few good men.

***

The Tao of Bird, age 2.5, who is prone to bursting out into song, busted out today with “A-O – Let’s go!”

So – at least one of my kids has apparent good taste in music.

***

Excerpts from an unwritten novel, part 2

He’s having another of his extended retreats to adolescence. He’s storming about the house with that disgusted look on his face, and exclaiming dissatisfaction with everything. She is trying to ignore it and proceed with her own life, but he frequently goes out of his way to clash with her. She realizes that much of the bullshit he throws her way is projection, but she doesn’t think he realizes this.

So he can continue to live the life of a failed rockstar who gets drunk and stoned every night and comes to life during the day as wonderdad to protect his children from their conniving slut of a mother. He can continue to sit around on his ass & do nothing & then blame her for all of the negative shit he feels about himself. He’s going to do it whether she argues with him or not. He might stay in this mode for a day or a week or a year, until she decides that she has better things to do than worry about his fragile little imaginary world where she (and possibly all women) is some sort of weird, evil villain who seeks to destroy him by paying all of his bills, buying his cigarettes, feeding his children & living her life.

UPDATE:

I’m sure there will be multiple updates to this guide, so I’m going to put them on top so you can see them quickly…

I can’t believe I forgot to mention the perennial Mama Calendar. Coleen does this calendar every year, and it is always amazing. Here’s her info:

How to order your Mama Calendar: Send $12 by paypal or US mail to: the mama calendar coleen murphy coleen@bust.com
Only $10 if you track me down to get it in person! Also $10 a piece for orders of ten or more. Email for mailing address if you need to pay by check.

I also just stumbled upon this amazing artist on Tumblr. His paintings make me happy, and I love that he makes greeting cards, as well: http://www.etsy.com/shop/jonshawpaintings

***

Below is the original post…

****

I watch a minimal amount of television. I don’t have cable, and I watch maybe 1 or 2 guilty pleasure shows regularly. But even with that, I’ve already seen enough “buy buy buy buy buy” commercials that I seriously would like to vomit. Maybe that makes me a grinch. Maybe it’s passe to talk about consumerism and greed over the holidays. Maybe my kids will be in therapy forever because I have, over the years, slowly dialed back the gift giving and traditional holiday celebrating to almost zero. Maybe the real way to show someone you care about them is to brave the crowds on black Friday and give an underpaid Wal-Mart worker something to do on the day after Thanksgiving. I don’t know.

What I DO know is I have a ton of very talented friends and relations who make shit. So, I feel like if you really would like to buy something for someone over the holidays – why not put your consumer dollars directly into the hands of an original artist or craftsperson. Yeah yeah. I know you are broke and handmade shit costs more…but maybe you buy too much, anyway. Maybe forcing yourself to buy something more expensive, and less of it, will help your family value what they *do* get more. I dunno. I don’t think my kids are particularly more evolved than anyone else just because they don’t get a bunch of crap from me over the holidays. And probably this year I won’t end up getting anything except things they really need. But in case you are interested in keeping your holiday dollars in the art/craft economy, here are some suggestions for you. ❤

In no particular order:

Linger Bath and Body: Amber makes some of the best soaps I have ever had the pleasure to use. They retain their fragrance through the whole bar, and she has tons of really great “flavors.” I always keep extra bars on hand for when I have guests, so they think I’m all fancy and shit. And I have my own special bar in the shower that the kids aren’t allowed to use.

***

My friend Pam makes the most delicious jams ever. She started sending them as holiday gifts a few years ago, and Tao of Bird would eat them all up before I had much of a chance. When I finally did manage to sneak some onto a piece of toast, I was blown away. So much yum, with unique flavors that go on forever, and ALL proceeds go to bull terrier rescue! Can’t beat that! Here’s what Pam has to say about her Jams:

Kick out the jams!!! And help some awesome li’l doggies along the way. All of my jams, dessert sauces, and mustard are loving made in my very clean but not-government-conforming personal kitchen. All fruit was sourced from one of three small farms — Hardin Farms in Eau Claire, Michigan, the Stella Gardens organic co-op in East Troy, Wisconsin, or the Fickau family orchard in Mukwonago, WI. All liquor used was purchased at a small family business. Flavors range from traditional to mad scientist.

Generally, my stuff comes in 4oz jars, BUT I have a limited number of 8oz jars available. Just ask. Small jars are $5 each, or 3 for $12, or 5 for $20. Large jars are $8. I also have a very, very limited number of Roma tomato quarts for $15 each — they taste just like summer!

Shipping is on you — if you don’t want to use a flat rate box (ideal if you are getting more than one, cuz these are in glass jars), I will let you know the actual shipping cost.

100% of the proceeds go to the Fort Dearborn Bull Terrier Rescue organization. Yes, 100%. So, if you buy five jams, the rescue gets that $20. This way we all get to give a little something to someone

Questions or whatnot, contact me at jamming4bullies@gmail.com

If you’re interested in a fancy gift basket, let me know and I’ll get my crafty mom on it!

***

I met Colin Mullin when he started organizing weekly sign-making workshops for Occupy Austin. Now he’s selling prints of some of his beautiful artwork on his website: http://www.colinmullin.com/index.html

***

kellyhoganfinalposter

Art by Dan Grzeca

I’m really proud of all of the zinesters I’ve known in my life who have grown up to become independent artists. Of the printmaking variety, Dan Grzeca is probably one of the most prolific. He does amazing works with animal/wooden building themes, and much more. You can check out his prints here: http://groundup.bigcartel.com/

***

HappyMakerTreats – Pansy is basically a genius of all things, but she’s especially a genius at making delicious cookies. She can adapt recipes to satisfy any dietary restrictions you might have, and everything she does tastes awesome. I know at least one person who will be getting some Happy Maker Treats this month! You should also indulge! She also makes and sells aprons.

***

My friend Jessica recently started making organic merino wool tube socks! Super comfy, soft, and warm! Also, she is doing organic cloth diapers and wool diaper covers on a word of mouth order basis. Contact her at: ohdearjessica@gmail.com, or at http://www.littlefawnorganics.com for diapers.

art by John Porcellino

art by John Porcellino

I’ve known John Porcellino since we both lived in the Chicago area, publishing zines. John was one of the very first local zinesters I knew, and gave me the die-cast bulldozer that became the basis for my tattoo. I’m so glad that John P is still creating and publishing his comic book King Cat Comics and Stories. There are none like him. His books make me happy to be alive. ❤ You can find his comics and other merchandise here: http://www.johnporcellino.blogspot.com/p/buy-comix.html

***

Ally Shaw is another zine friend of mine from way back. She now resides in England, and makes the coolest jewelry! I’m vowing this year will be the year that I buy something from her awesome Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/feralstrumpet

***

Yet another zine friend who I used to live with in Chicago, Andy Lowry now creates one-of-a-kind decorative home goods. I need to vow to get one of her awesome custom serving trays this year, as well! Check out her website here: http://www.whygirlsgoastray.com.

***

Beth Winegarner grew up in the zine world, too. (How awesome is it that zines nurtured so many artistic people into lifelong careers in creative fields!)  Now she’s a journalist, writing books about important topics like this one: http://www.bethwinegarner.com/the-columbine-effect/

***

Check out Sarah’s awesome jewelry at her website here: http://www.worldonastring.us/

***

Tracie is just getting started creating natural bodycare products under the business name Teabody Naturals. So far, she only has a Facebook Page, but keep your eye out for more information, or email here to find out what she has available: tracie@teabodynaturals.com

***

How to describe Imagine? He’s the wonderful child of a friend I made through the internet at the height of hipmama days. Imagine makes incredible Lego designs, and you can find his book here: http://www.blurb.com/b/4566814-imagine-designs. He’s such an awesome kid.

Entrust-460x600Ray Maseman (aka Raymond) is another awesome printmaker. I keep typing things about Raymond’s artwork and it just sounds so silly to describe it, I’m erasing. Whimsical? Silly? Fantastic? All adjectives sound really trite. I think my favorite concept in Raymond’s art is the penguin in a bird-shaped flying machine. That pretty much describes how I feel about all of Raymond’s artwork. It’s like a penguin in a bird-shaped flying machine…or a giraffe in a boat. You can find greeting cards here: http://www.cafepress.com/raymaseman, various cards and merchandise here: http://www.zazzle.com/maseman, and prints here: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A6685299011%2Cp_lbr_three_browse-bin%3ARay%20Maseman

***@@@***@@@***@@@***@@@***@@@***@@@

In addition to my friends who make cool stuff, here are some other suggestions for non-commercial gift giving:

From my friend Karen: My sister makes amazing things, she is hauling her lot to a craft show this weekend but said next week her ebay store will be stocked up. She creates steam punk sculptures, repurposed books, cute stuffed critters along with original paintings and drawings. Her ebay name is pleasant_surprise

Bliss Point Cupcakes: https://m.facebook.com/blisspointcupcakes?ref=stream&_ft_&_rdr

Upcycled goods: http://adaptivereuser.com/home.html

Feel free to make your own suggestions in comments. Independent makers only, please!

P.S. I almost forgot about meeeeee! I will be putting out a new zine this year, as well as postcards. I’m currently doing a fundraiser, and taking pre-orders through that fundraiser. Please help fund my zine and zine library this year. ❤ Thank you. Here’s the link: https://www.wepay.com/donations/oyster-lexicon-zine-and-crustacean-zine-library-fundraiser

I spent much of the morning today thinking about artichokes. Working on my forthcoming zine, Oyster Lexicon.

In case I haven’t already described it (my understanding of this project has evolved over time, so I might have written about it before in a less specific way) Oyster Lexicon will be an alphabet of me (aka Lainie the Oyster) and A is for Artichoke. I have an artichoke drawing, a recipe, and artichoke mix…originally I thought I would just do 6 letters of the alphabet per issue, but it’s starting to seem like I might be doing 1-3 letters per issue, what with all of the artichoke media I’m going to gather. The zine will also be fully or partially full-color. I’m still debating about the size format. It will be hand-lettered (no computers will be used in the creation of the pages, but I will be scanning the hand-drawn/hand-lettered pages to do the layout and MIGHT do some computer editing after that.)

I’m super excited about doing a zine again. I had started to do one years ago after a trip to Chicago, but never really sustained an interest in it (though I do still have some great pieces that I was going to include in that zine that I might use for my “C is for Chicago” pages of Oyster Lexicon.) My plan is to put out the zine, as well as postcards and maybe notecards with the illustrations I’m making for each letter. I’d love to encourage people to send out actual mail, so I feel like making things that other people can use to brighten up the mailboxes of friends and relationships will accomplish another goal.

It’s been a long time since I last put out a zine, so I’m not entirely sure how I will do distribution. Ideally, I will be able to get some advanced orders to help fund the printing and mailing of the initial print run, which will hopefully continue to (mostly) fund any additional print runs. It’s not like I work at Kinko’s and can get free copies anymore. Speaking of which – do I still know people who work at Kinko’s and can get me a deal on copies? 😉

Etsy? WePay? Amazon books? iBooks? How are people promoting/distributing zines these days? If anyone reading this can give me any advice/suggestions, I’d really appreciate it.

In other news –

My new rhythm of days is working really well for me. I feel like I’ve achieved a pretty decent balance of internal/external time, and I’m making time for art and education as well as day-to-day practical things. I’m a little less worried about completing everything on my list, and am working on finding chunks of my week where I can just forget about time completely and focus on a task until *I* feel done with it, rather than when a clock tells me it’s time to be done with it. I still need to work on eliminating distractions and focusing on the task at hand (as evidenced by the fact that I got caught up in several facebook discussions during the writing of this blog post.) but I do feel like I’m spending the time I have doing things that are important to me, or essential to my family and community.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dating, and how people without children maybe don’t really grasp the challenges in the lives of single parents – particularly custodial parents. Primarily, it’s odd to me how even very kind and understanding people can misunderstand how much of a financial and logistical burden it is to be the custodial parent of children – even when those children are older and not in need of constant supervision. As a woman and a feminist, for instance, I’m not really keen on a guy always picking up the tab for me. As a single mother who is struggling financially, however, you are damn straight I can’t even afford dating unless the other person pays. I’m totally cool with non-extravagant dating. I’m especially cool with cooking in or creating our own DIY entertainment…but it’s really difficult for me to help people understand that my inability to pay for a date is not a “reverse sexist” thing, but a “financial necessity” thing…and if I was the person in the relationship in a better financial situation, I would definitely be the person who offered to pay, or I would adjust my expectations of what a date might entail to ensure affordability. It’s a tricky subject, and it makes me want to avoid dating rather than having to attempt to unpack it with someone. hahaha.

Also, my children are not baggage. It might be challenging to date a woman with children, but it is hopefully a net positive. Oddly enough, I feel like my children become more of a challenge to my dating relationships as they get older. When they were younger, they tended to be more agreeable and open-minded about accepting people into our lives. Now they are more set in their ways and can be resistant to inviting new people in, even temporarily. I’m sure it’s difficult for a man to come into my home and be shunned by my adolescent boys, but that is the way adolescents sometimes are. It might be more exaggerated in my household because I am not a strict authoritarian, and my boys have always been very free to express themselves (for better or for worse) – but it’s the way it is. It’s really up to the adults in the relationship to navigate these issues…and I seem to find men who want instant acceptance from people who just aren’t designed to be uncritical of new people in their lives. It takes time. It takes time. It takes time. And the last thing I need is to be this person who is trying to solely balance the needs of the children with the needs of a potential new partner. Guess whose needs are going to come first every time, guys? You got it – the non-adults! The ones who I am obligated to care for until they are able to care for themselves. Which, by the way,  might not be the very day they turn 18. It could possibly take longer than that. Because all kids mature differently.

I suppose dating as a single parent of adolescent boys is a good filter for me, though. It’s a lot more difficult to get involved in relationships and situations that are overly-complicated and require more of me than I should be expected to reasonably give. I’m just not capable of accommodating another person’s needs above mine or my children’s right now. It’s challenging for me, because my tendency is to accommodate. My tendency is to invite chaos. My tendency is to try new and different things, experiment, and see where they end up. And while I might be giving up on some things that might, after some work, end up being beneficial…I just can’t spare the time and energy to get there at this point in my life. I require a partner who is able to give more than take right now. I require a partner who accommodates me, more than requiring me to accommodate him. That FEELS selfish to me, but it’s reality. It’s where I am. And, really? I’m fucking worth it! hahahaha.

 

She’s Not There.

It’s 11 PM, and I’m waiting for an artichoke to cook. Finally getting around to eating dinner. Today has continued the theme of wishing I could remain bedridden while still accomplishing all of my goals and tasks. I did manage to stay in my cozy bed for much of the day, but some things required out-of-bedness. For instance, chalk pastels in bed? Not such a great idea.

Mainly I lazed about in my nightgown today. Brooded a little. Thought a lot. Drew and wrote some. Listened to music. Chatted with an old friend and kept track of world events. It was definitely a well-executed mental health day.

I thought a lot about understanding vs. accommodating. And the fact that I can very much understand someone else’s choices. I might even endorse those choices. I might possibly even fight for that person’s right to make those choices. However, understanding fully why someone has made the choices they have made does not necessarily obligate me to make the same choices, or to invite the potential consequences of those choices into my daily life. That’s been a difficult lesson for me to learn, but it’s a good one. I’m glad to have learned that this week. I’m glad to have come to terms with it. Understanding is not agreement. And just because I don’t desire something does not mean I don’t understand it.

Anyway, my artichoke is almost done. Nom nom. Eats!

 

 

All Hail the Non-Custodial!

He who reads your journals,

and holds their fatalistic contents against you

For THIRTEEN.

FUCKING.

YEARS.

He who gives you

Just what you deserve

and more

He who stayed up countless nights,

witnessing crying jags

of an anxious infant

from across the room

on the couch

in his unemployed haze

while you begged to be relieved

so you could sleep enough

for work in the morning

Hail the non-custodial!

For never reading a single book

about parenting

or education

but who is just sure

You are doing it wrong

Who doesn’t want you

to bother him

with the details…

Unless he does.

Hail the custodial!

who complains about

discriminatory courts

Who enjoys custodial rights, but never

custodial responsibility

Who never questions

why birthday celebrations

slumber parties

and pretty much all relationships

exist at the home of the custodial.

Never considers the cost

of creating a welcoming home,

but enjoys the privilege

of not having to pay it.

Hail him! Bow before him!

Prostrate yourself for the crumbs

that barely pay the grocery budget

of a house with two

Growing

Teenage boys.

The same amount

that supported

toddler diets and

grade school needs

can now certainly be stretched

to cover

adolescent appetites

and extracurricular

activities.

Throw roses in his wake,

as he tells you

that’s all you’re getting.

Curse your inability to understand

non-custodial math

as you foolishly add up the costs of lodging,

entertainment,

education,

and logistical expenses.

Make sure he knows how special

and holy

he is.

And always. Always. ALWAYS.

Find a way to make do

without his assistance

Because those in custody

should not have to want

for his wanting.

p.s. The subject

of this poem

is FICTIONAL.

Because

Maude forbid anyone

EVER

besmirch the

good name

of the

non-custodial.